Fishermen blockade lobster plant

Some P.E.I. fishermen set up a blockade of a lobster plant in eastern P.E.I. Wednesday afternoon.
Lobster fishermen used boats on trailers to block deliveries to the plant at Beach Point. (Steve Bruce/CBc)

Some P.E.I. fishermen set up a blockade of a lobster plant in eastern P.E.I. Wednesday afternoon.

The fishermen are protesting prices they expect they will be paid by processors, reported to be between $2.75 and $3.50 a pound. The P.E.I. Fishermen's Association says $5 a pound is needed for fishermen to break even.

The blockade went up at the Beach Point plant early in the afternoon. RCMP were on the scene and the protest was peaceful. At least two trucks delivering lobster to the plant were turned away.

Nobody on site at the plant was willing to comment.

Most P.E.I. lobster fishermen tied up their boats Wednesday in protest over the low lobster prices, said Ian MacPherson, executive director of the P.E.I. Fishermen's Association.  A few sailed out of North Rustico Harbour and a couple of ports in West Prince.

MacPherson said he expects the protest will spread across the Maritimes.

"We're just getting some updates from both Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, and if harbours haven't tied up today there's a strong interest to tie up tomorrow," he said.

"They're going through the same pain, if not to the same magnitude."

Fishermen still do not have official confirmation of the price they are getting. MacPherson said statements are expected from processors Thursday or Friday, but a provincial government official said Tuesday prices were between $2.75 to $3.50 for the first week of the season, which was last week.

The news on the wharf only seems to be getting worse.

"The $2 figure was floated out on some wharves this morning, which is just unbelievable. It makes the situation more serious," said MacPherson.

"There seems to be a blatant disregard for the livelihoods of our harvesters out there."

Processors concerned

Jeff Malloy, president of the P.E.I. Seafood Processors Association, expressed concern with how events were unfolding Wednesday.

The last few years have been difficult for processors as well, says Jeff Malloy, president of the P.E.I. Seafood Processors Association. (CBC)

"We can certainly see the position the fishermen have with low prices. Nobody in the industry wants to see that," Malloy told CBC News.

But Malloy objected to the notion that seafood processors have the power to set prices as they like.

Malloy said a strong Canadian dollar has been putting pressure on prices for years. It was much easier to get a good price when the dollar was below 70 cents U.S. Chinese currency fell in value versus the Canadian dollar in the last year, he said.

"It's been rough the last few years in the processing sector as well. There hasn't been any money made on the process side," he said.

Malloy added that lobster is important to the Island economy, from the fishermen to the people working in the plants to the shippers, and all of that stops if the lobster aren't coming out of the water.

Meetings on the wharf

About 75 lobster fishermen met on Grahams Pond wharf to discuss what to do about lobster prices. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

About 75 lobster fishermen gathered at Grahams Pond wharf, near Montague, Wednesday morning to discuss what they might do next.

They asked media to stay off the wharf while they held their discussions, and said they would make a statement after the meeting.

Another gathering of lobster fishermen is planned in Naufrage Wednesday afternoon.